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Ahh, the holidays. Michael Bublé on blast, holiday drinks at Starbucks, and Christmas party hookups (we’re kidding, please stay in). The holidays will look pretty different this year with ‘rona still rampant, but regardless of how you spend it, gift-giving with friends and family is probably still on your mind. Now, we know retail therapy is real, and let’s just say 2020 is giving us even more reasons to want to fix our problems by buying things we don’t need. But before you start maxing out your credit cards and landing in that pool of tears and regret (like you did after you drunk-texted your ex, oops), make sure you’re not falling into one of the following traps this holiday shopping season.
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Mistake #1: Not Setting Your Budget Beforehand
Before you buy anything, be sure to get organized and craft your budget. Start planning out your holiday shopping by making a list of every single person you’re planning on buying a gift for and how much you are willing to spend for each of them. Then remember to include white elephant gifts, potential travel expenses, or (virtual) office parties. And of course, smaller expenses like wrapping paper, shipping fees, and decorations. They’re small, but they add up! Once you’re done making your budget, stick to it! Impulse-buying is real, we get it, but you do not want to end up spending more than you can afford. This especially applies to people who recently entered the workforce and started making money. We know it’s tempting to go all-out and splurge once that paycheck hits, but be sure to slow your roll and think savvy!
Mistake #2: Buying Gifts Last-Minute
Like that presentation you need to work on for tomorrow’s meeting (we see you procrastinating on Betches, girl), you will not be on your A-game if you wait until the last minute. Retailers know that shopping tends to spike closer to the end of the holiday season, and they often raise prices because they know buyers will be willing to drop more. To make matters worse, if you don’t shop ahead, many items may be out of stock or otherwise unavailable, which could lead you to settling with higher-priced alternatives. You don’t want the stress of having to rush to finish up your holiday shopping. Start hunting down deals right now! (Bonus: It gives you an excuse to procrastinate at work, just saying.)
Mistake #3: Overspending On Credit
If you haven’t started saving up for this holiday season, it might be tempting to just swipe your credit card and deal with the expenses later. But patience, young padawan. You do not want to end up drowning in exorbitantly high interest rates and fees or to ultimately take a hit to your credit score. It’s noble and generous to give extravagant gifts, but do not jeopardize your financial health for the sake of it! Remember that handmade gifts and sentimentality (self-care craft night, anyone?) can be just as appreciated as store-bought gifts. If you do take on debt, set strict goals to pay it off by January or February of next year—do not let those interest rates accrue!
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Mistake #4: Splurging On “Great Deals”
So you’re perusing stores looking for gifts, and you see it. 50% off the MOST FETCH handbag you’ve ever seen. Or free shipping if you spend just $10 more. Or even 10% off if you apply for a store credit card. It always feels like an opportunity we just can’t pass up! I get huge FOMO when shopping for deals, and we’ve all been guilty of spending extra when we really thought we were spending less. Retailers know how to take advantage of human psychology, and they push just the right buttons to make us buy things that we don’t really need, or even want. So this holiday season, ask yourself if you would still buy the item if it was full-price, or if your money would be better served elsewhere.
Mistake #5: Impulsive Buys
Now if you’re like me (I have definitely bought a dress because yes, I totally saw myself wearing it while eating a pain au chocolat in a cafe by the Eiffel Tower like Emily), you have also totally shoved that dress in the back of your closet, only to collect dust. Impulse-buying because we think we need the item makes us vulnerable to overspending and maxing out on our holiday budget. Stick to the 7-day rule: if you like something, think about it over the course of the week, and then act on it! You will be surprised to see how much your opinion can change when you’re out of the spending mindset.
Mistake #6: Sh*tty Gift-Giving Strategies
Like any good investment (read more on investing here), the best gifts aren’t necessarily the expensive ones—they’re the ones with high value. Before you buy a gift for someone, ask yourself: is this something they need and will use daily, or will it just end up being re-gifted? Have you taken a look at their Pinterest boards, or any of their wishlists? The best gifts are useful and high-quality; think tickets to an art museum your BFF is dying to go to (after COVID ofc!), or a standing desk extension for WFH. And also, if you are tight on cash this holiday season, consider doing a gift exchange with family, setting maximums for gift exchanges, or just planning a virtual get-together instead. Normalize that money talk!
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Mistake #7: Not Shopping Savvy
As you’re shopping for gifts, don’t take prices at face value; do your research and compare prices across retailers. Now more than ever, it’s easy to automate your deal shopping by adding a couple of browser extensions like Honey or Rakuten. Like any potential cuffing season bf/gf, be sure to shop around and compare prices before you commit! Don’t leave money on the table.
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Mistake #8: Not Planning For Next Year
If you’re like me and are just waiting for 2020 to be f*cking over, start off next year on the right foot by determining how much you will need for gifts the next holiday season. Establish a small fund early on and divide it into months, so it’s easier to manage. It’s also worthwhile to throw that moola into a high-yield savings account or a brokerage account early to earn some bank without breaking a sweat!
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Images: Ben White / Unsplash; @her.capital / Instagram
Thanks to #SYYTD, the wedding dress shopping experience has become a full blown circus. From custom t-shirts and coolers of champagne, to bringing everyone you’ve ever known to your dress appointment, brides forget what they’re actually doing there. As a former bridal shop consultant, I’ve heard first-hand the crazy tips brides think they should follow, and I’m calling B.S.
Bullshit Lie #1: Bring Your Bridesmaids
On TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, you often see the bride with her entire bridal party in tow (and her grandma, her future MIL, her third cousin twice removed). Sure, they might seem like a nice reprieve from mom’s nagging opinions, but in my experience, bridesmaids have a hard time putting their personal opinions aside. Comments like “that doesn’t work for your venue” or “that’s not that flattering” happen more often than you’d think. I once had a bride who went from excitement in the dressing room to total distress because of a bridesmaid’s bitchy comments. I’m not saying all of your friends would be assholes, but wedding dress opinions are subjective, so the most important thing is trusting your gut over their opinion. If you must bring your squad along, set some guidelines beforehand and tell them that they should just be there for moral support, not to go all Simon Cowell circa American Idol.
Bullshit Lie #2: Pinterest Is Your Friend
I love Pinterest just as much as the next basic bitch but TBH, going on a pin binge right before you dress shop is NOT helpful. Sure, you might find things you like, but unless you’re sure the store you’re going to has that dress in stock, you’ll likely be disappointed. Showing a stylist your pin board is helpful if you have a general vibe in mind (classic, formal), but if you want something extremely specific that you pinned, that’s a bit tougher depending on the salon’s inventory. Also, gowns look completely different on you than they do on Pinterest. Often times, those pictures are from models with completely different body types than yours (unless you’re a model, in which case, none of this applies to you). I’ve had a number of brides come into the store with a vision they’d created from hours of pinning, only to find out that a flowy, boho vibe did not live up to their expectations. Having a general idea of what you like is better than coming in with a highly specific vision.
Bullshit Lie #3: You Need To Shop At Multiple Stores
This lie is one that really pisses off stylists. Not just because they’re more likely to lose a sale to this notion, but because it’s simply not true. Yes, this dress is once in a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean you have to have an over-the-top emotional moment where you and your mom sob and hug each other like you just overcame some terrible illness. Feeling kick-ass and loving the way you look in the dress is more than enough of a reason to say yes to it, crying is optional. Brides who go to multiple stores also might do so because the first store they found something that wasn’t what they expected. That happens more often than not, so don’t be alarmed. It’s OK to have a change of heart, especially when it comes to wedding gowns, because they’re totally different once you put them on. Be confident in your decision when it feels right, tears or no tears.
Bullshit Lie #4: Champagne Required
Celebrating is V important. Boozy brunch is V important. However, a drunk bride and her entourage is NOT. Too many times I’ve dealt with a sloppy appointment when the bride stumbles in, can’t get two feet into her dress and nobody in her peanut gallery has self-awareness. When it gets to this point, the squad should have just stayed at brunch. Save the celebrating for after, and don’t show up with a chambong ready to get wild at the salon. A lot of salons either don’t have champagne or they save it until a final decision is made. Wedding dress shopping is a classy affair, so sure, have a few glasses after saying yes, but save the sloppiness for the bachelorette party.
Bullshit Lie #5: Make It A Whole-day Affair
It sounds ridiculous, but putting wedding dresses on is actually a very tiring process. Oftentimes you’re getting in and out of up to 10 dresses in one appointment, times that by three appointments and you’ll have tried on nearly 30 dresses in one day. Not only are you exhausted by your last appointment, everything will start to blend together. There’s no reason you need to turn dress shopping into the Hunger Games of your wedding. Visiting one store in a day is plenty, especially since the appointments are usually 90 minutes. Don’t go to more than two in one day and plan a break in between so you have time to regroup both mentally and physically.